Elegant yet Unpretentious: Wine matched to Great Food at Soule Domain

Soule Domain in Kings Beach is the place to take a date for a very special meal, to celebrate a birthday or anniversary with friends and family, and to sample wines from a wonderful list of reasonably priced wines from some of the more interesting appellations in California. Charlie Soule is the heart of the restaurant, and his chef motto of “Buy local, cook global, eat universal” extends to the wine list as well.

Soule Domain sets the mood for an intimate exploration of wine and food pairings in the lovely log cabin environment with exposed rafters, a high roof, heirloom furnishings and vintage photos from around the lake. Subdued music – cool jazz or classical – sets the tone for an elegant evening.

Charlie’s philosophy as a chef is to work from good fresh products, preferably using local organics that are naturally raised. He specializes in unpretentious foods, prepares dishes that people understand and relate to, and his choice of wines is in line with that. He searches out wineries that are smaller, “family owner operated business like ourselves”, and if the grapes are sustainably grown, “that’s better yet”. A proponent of nearby wineries, such as those in Amador and El Dorado counties, Charlie says they “all have a lot to offer”.

From his wine list, Charlie Soule selected 3 whites and 3 reds for our wine-food pairing experience.

The first, a Swanson Pinot Grigio, Napa, was paired with an Ahi crudo tartare with olive tapenade . The wine is crisp and minerally, its slightly-astringent quality nicely balancing the food. Long before it was fashionable Swanson Vineyards has been making Estate Pinot Grigio. The fruit, sourced primarily from their Oakville vineyard, yields a wine that gives an aroma of citrus and guava, and the rich mouth-feel reveals more citrus and some pear. 13.6% alcohol.

Charlie also suggested a Sobon Estate Viognier to accompany the Ahi or any fish course, for that matter. Aroma of jasmine, lily of the valley, lavendar, Bazooka bubblegum, and a full-body taste featuring peach with a hint of minerality. 14.1% alcohol. Located in Plymouth, Amador County appellation.

Gold Notes’ Chardonnay originates in the Fair Play growing area of El Dorado County. It was beautifully paired with a scallop appetizer prepared with a white wine reduction of lemon, butter and basil.. Charlie Soule not only enjoys the Gold Note wines, but he has huge respect for the Winemaker/Owner of Gold Note, Kevin Foley. Gold Note makes small quantities of rich, complex wines, and the Chardonnay is lovely. It’s nicely oakey, a nice tannin on the front palate, well-balanced and crisp. Hints of citrus, pineapple, pear. 14.3% alcohol.

The first of the red wines selected was a 2007 Laetitia Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley- Monterey Coast. This is a somewhat young but robust Pinot Noir, but it opens up beautifully after 15 minutes or so and delivers magnificent flavor of spice, dark fruit, and an earthiness that went well with the pairing of duck salad finished with a sesame soy vinaigrette. A medium finish, and 14.1% alcohol. Charlie Soule considers this an excellent value in a pinot. We agree.

Also with the duck, a good choice would be the 2006 Gold Note Petit Sirah, which is fruit forward and a soft, and aromatic wine with hints of chocolate, black pepper, and citrus zest. 14.8% alcohol.

Truckee River Winery’s Zinfandel is what some might call a fruit-bomb. Absolutely luscious, and perfect with the lamb ravioli dish. We’ve written about this wine before… grapes sourced from the Gribaudo Vineyard-Lodi, only 250-300 cases produced. 14.3% alcohol. Get it while it lasts!

Soule Domain is located at 9983 Stateline Rd in Kings Beach, CA , and is open 7 nights everyday but Thanksgiving. Reservations are suggested, as this intimate and charming restaurant seats only 44; call (530) 546-7529.

© 2009 Barbara Keck

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "It's Grape" in September 2009.

No comments:

Post a Comment